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Elizabeth Warren Has Apologized For Saying She Is Native American

"I'm not a tribal citizen, and I should have been more mindful," the Massachusetts Democrat said Wednesday.

Posted on February 6, 2019, at 5:47 p.m. ET

Scott Eisen / Getty Images

Sen. Elizabeth Warren publicly apologized Wednesday for identifying as Native American for years as she prepares a possible 2020 presidential campaign

"I am sorry that I extended confusion about tribal citizenship and tribal sovereignty, and for harm caused," Warren told reporters. "I am also sorry for not being more mindful of this decades ago. Tribes and only tribes determine tribal citizenship."

The Massachusetts Democrat's apology came one day after the Washington Post reported that she identified as an "American Indian" in an official registration card for the State Bar of Texas in 1986, and days after she privately apologized to a leader of the Cherokee Nation for her decision to take a DNA test to prove her Native American ancestry last year.

Warren, who announced on New Year's Eve that she was launching an exploratory committee to run for president, said she had a good conversation with Bill John Baker, the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, and that she was continuing to talk and work with him on issues concerning the Native American community.

In October, Warren released the results of a genetics test that concluded the senator's ancestry was mostly European, but that she most likely had a Native American ancestor from generations ago. Warren's family had claimed her great-great-great-grandmother, O.C. Sarah Smith, was at least partially Native American, and from Oklahoma.

The decision to take the test was seen as a rebuttal to years of criticism from President Trump, who often refers to Warren as "Pocahontas," and others who insisted she was lying about her ancestry. Instead, the move was met with ire from tribal leaders and grassroots groups.

"I grew up believing with my brothers, this is our family's story," she said. "And it's all consistent from that point in time. But as I said, it's important to note, I'm not a tribal citizen, and I should have been more mindful."

Warren has repeatedly said that while she claimed to have Native American ancestry, she has not used ethnicity to get ahead in her career.

"Nothing about my background ever had anything to do with any job I got in any place," Warren said Wednesday. "It's been fully documented."

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